Knesset passes bill increasing enforcement on illegal Arab building

A law passed by the Knesset on Wednesday gives authorities more power to act against illegal construction in Arab sectors. 

The Knesset passed a bill on Wednesday, known as the “Kaminitz Law,” which amends the Planning and Building Law of 1965 to expand and enhance the powers of administrative entities and national planning bodies to demolish illegal construction.

The law addresses the phenomenon of continued illegal construction in Israel’s Arab sector, some of which goes unpenalized.

The bill, which passed 43-33, also restricts the court’s power to act against illegal construction. The law also imposes larger fines and increases the imprisonment terms on those responsible for illegal construction from a maximum of two to three years.

“We want Israeli Arabs to integrate in Israel, but that means they will have to accept the law,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset plenum after the vote.

Netanyahu also praised Likud Member of Knesset (MK) David Amsalem, chair of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, for bringing the bill for a vote. However, several Arab-Israeli MKs of the Joint List faction attempted to shout Netanyahu down as they voiced their protests against the law. Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka was reportedly kicked out for causing too much of a disturbance.

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Regavim, an NGO that works “to ensure responsible, legal, accountable and environmentally friendly use of Israel’s national lands,” praised the bill’s enactment.

“Regavim applauds the passage of this bill,” said Regavim’s International Director Josh Hasten. “The law will allow local municipalities to enforce building laws, give building inspectors more authority to do their jobs, prevent criminals from abusing the justice system for their benefit, and more.”

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News